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#ChooseToChallenge: International Women’s Day 2021

We look forward to International Women’s Day every year. At the YW, it is the perfect time to look back and reflect on all of the work we have done for women in our community, but more importantly, we look forward to seeing ways that we can empower women in Niagara in the year ahead. Whether through events such as the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women and the Power of Being a Girl conference or our advocacy for women’s issues, the YW has a lot to be proud of on #IWD2021. This year’s theme – Choose To Challenge – especially reminds us of the ways we have overcome for the betterment of women and their families. After a year of ongoing challenge through the pandemic, we have all grown and changed – for the better. This year’s theme empowers us to keep on challenging ourselves because only then can we continue to grow and change.

How can you continue to grow in this year ahead?

Commit to learning about women’s issues in your community

A large part of our advocacy work is about education because we know an informed population is more likely to incite meaningful change. Every community is different but many struggle with some key women’s issues including domestic violence, barriers to leadership and employment opportunities, harassment, and sexism to name a few. In Niagara, one of our focuses as a non-profit is addressing the unique issues women face while living in poverty. We know women experience homelessness and poverty differently than men, and so the YW approaches all of our work with a feminist lens to better address the needs of the women and families we serve. A little research about the issues that are prevalent in your community can help you start your advocacy journey.

Raise awareness against bias

How do we do this? It is much simpler than you might expect – talk openly about women’s issues, bias, and discrimination. If something doesn’t sit right with you, call it out. By drawing attention to acts of bias, we’re able to address the issue head-on and hopefully correct it in the moment. Raising awareness against bias can be a simple as asking questions like “Is this space/conversation inclusive to ALL women?” or “Have we looked at this approach or issue with a feminist lens?”. Everyone is responsible for creating an open, unbiased environment and anyone can speak up against gender bias.

Bonus: You can help get the conversation started this International Women’s Day by participating in our #IWD2021 campaign on social media. Strike the #ChooseToChallenge post, post the picture of social media and tag us! In the caption, let us know how you are choosing to challenge yourself and your community.

Take action for equality

Actions speak louder than words and it is a very important part of advocacy. Taking actions to support gender equity in your community is as straightforward as donating to a women’s organization in your area. Non-profits and chairites rely on individuals like you to help lift up the voices of systemically marginalized women. Together, we are stronger than we are apart. Consider donating to a women’s charity like the YWCA Niagara Region to maximize the impact of your International Women’s Day gift!

There are so many ways to take action for gender equality all year long: shop at women-owned businesses, celebrate feminist media (movies, books, television, etc.), exercise your political rights, volunteer for a feminist organization. The list goes on and on. As one of the largest feminist non-profits in Niagara, we invite you to take action with a gift for women and children living in poverty.

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